We've seen some huge contracts and extensions get signed over the years in Major League Baseball, but Clayton Kershaw is now laughing all the way to the bank. On Wednesday, the 26-year old starter inked an extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers for seven years and will be reportedly worth $215 million. It would make him the highest-paid player in baseball history, in terms of annual value.
If the numbers are accurate, Kershaw's deal will soar past the $180 million extension given to Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander last season. It's an impressive number, for a guy who has pitched at least 200 innings in each of the last four years. The extension also comes with an opt-out clause after five years.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles first reported the news on Wednesday afternoon. She also noted that even after this extension, he would still only be 30 years old when it comes time for him to be a free agent. That's still younger than most players are able to hit the market on their first trip to free agency.
Kershaw went 16-9 in 2012, with a 1.83 ERA and 232 strikeouts in 236 innings. He won the Cy Young Award for the second time in three years, coming in as a runner-up in the other season he didn't win the award. He's led the Majors in ERA in each of the last three years, and is arguably the best pitcher in baseball today. Over the last five seasons, there are five starting pitchers with over 400 innings pitched and an ERA under 3.00. Kershaw is the only one under 2.85, currently sitting with a 2.44 ERA.
The Dodgers are set to have the top payroll in baseball for the 2014 season if nothing changes and it's expected to be in excess of $200 million. They now have at least $17.5 million committed to six different players, respectively, as far out as the 2017 season.